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  Mens Sana Monographs
A Monograph Series Devoted To The Understanding Of Medicine, Mental Health, Man, Mind, Music And Their Matrix
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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 11-34

What Explains Consciousness? Or...What Consciousness Explains?

PhD. Department of Psychology, University of Illinois, 603 East Daniel Street, Champaign, IL 61820, USA

Correspondence Address:
Donelson E Dulany
Department of Psychology, University of Illinois, 603 East Daniel Street, Champaign, IL 61820
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0973-1229.130283

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In this invited commentary I focus on the topic addressed in three papers: De Sousa's (2013 [16],[17] ) Toward an Integrative Theory of Consciousness, a monograph with Parts 1 & 2, as well as commentaries by Pereira (2013a [59] ) and Hirstein (2013 [42] ). All three are impressively scholarly and can stand-and shout-on their own. But theory of consciousness? My aim is to slice that topic into the two fundamentally different kinds of theories of consciousness, say what appears to be an ideology, out of behaviourism into cognitivism, now also influencing the quest for an "explanation of consciousness" in cognitive neuroscience. I will then say what can be expected given what we know of the complexity of brain structure, the richness of a conscious "vocabulary", and current technological limits of brain imaging. This will then turn to the strategy for examining "what consciousness explains"-metatheory, theories, mappings, and a methodology of competitive support, a methodology especially important where there are competing commitments. There are also increasingly common identifications of methodological bias in, along with failures to replicate, studies reporting unconscious controls in decision, social priming-as there have been in perception, learning, problem solving, etc. The literature critique has provided evidence taken as reducing, and in some cases eliminating, a role for conscious controls-a position consistent with that ideology out of behaviourism into cognitivism. It is an ideological position that fails to recognize the fundamental distinction between theoretical and metaphysical assertions.

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